#OTalk 17th Sep 2019 – Stigma – Intervention into toxic environments

This weeks #OTalk will be hosted by Keir Harding – @Keirwales
noun: stigma; plural noun: stigmas; plural noun: stigmata
“a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”
On October 3rd the study day “Occupational Therapy and the Diagnosis of Personality Disorder” takes place in London.Personality Disorder is an interesting diagnosis in many ways, not least because of the amount of stigma associated with it.This #OTalk is based on one of the sessions taking place that day.
As occupational therapists, we are encouraged to look at the things people want to do, need to do and are capable of doing (Volition, Habituation and Skills).We also consider how the environment either supports or inhibits a persons ability to function.While it’s easy to pay attention to the physical environment and consider how it can be adapted, this is less obvious in the social environment.
In this #Otalk I’m going to suggest that stigma, prejudice and discrimination is a toxic part of the social environment that severely inhibits functioning.It has the potential to attach to a variety of people (normally disempowered minorities) with the effect of shaping staff attitudes and thus their ability to support those in their care.Equally the way that the environment responds to us will shape how we think about ourselves, others and the world with a profound effect on the occupations we are able to engage in.While my interest is predominately in mental health I’m very interested in this concept within the whole of healthcare.
On the night we will consider:
1 What do we think of the idea that Stigma is part of the social environment?
2 How do we see Stigma played out in our work environment? What is done? What isn’t done? What gets said?
3 What is the impact of stigma on those we are supposed to care for?
4 What is the impact on us and the staff we work with?
5 How do we adapt the social environment to facilitate optimal functioning? How do we challenge stigma?Is this a core part of our role?
If my dastardly plans come to fruition, we will all leave this talk convinced that an awareness of stigma and a determination to challenge it is a vital role for OTs.  We should also have picked up a few tools to ensure that we have the best chance of success.
You can book onto the study day here:
There’s discounted places for service users.  Let @Keirwales know you booked because you saw it on #otalk and he will give you a gift card for a coffee shop.

Have you got 3 minutes to help us improve the #OTalk website?


On 25th October, OTalk will be turning 8!

What started out as small weekly chats (made up mainly of the seven founding members of OTalk) has grown so much over the past 8 years. We had almost 1,000 chat participants in the first half of this year and we now have monthly chats dedicated to research.

However, our website hasn’t aged well. We last updated our design in 2014, and a lot has changed since then. We now have far better tools at our disposal to improve the responsivity of our website and to make the content more accessible for everyone.

Clarissa (@geekyOT) is revamping the OTalk website and would love to hear from you about what you would like to see in the new version.

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#OTalk 10th Sep 2019 – Supervision – what’s the point?

My name is Margaret Spencer @margaretOT360 I have been qualified for almost 35 years, and I am as passionate, motivated and enthusiastic about the profession as I was when I started my training in 1982.

I work a couple of days a week as a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, and the rest of the time I provide occupational therapy professional supervision. I also run relationships and sexuality workshops for Love2meetu a dating agency for people with learning disabilities. It’s safe to say occupational therapy is the lens through which I view life.

In the early years of my career, I spent a whole year without seeing or talking to another occupational therapist(it was before technology arrived). I delivered occupational therapy in a day centre in Peterborough. After a year as a band 5, all the other qualified Occupational Therapy staff (3) moved on and I was left to manage 15 occupational therapy support staff, delivering a service to 50 people with a learning disability. I was 22 and it was a baptism of fire that I survived.

When I finally had professional supervision I had been qualified for over five years, had moved jobs and locations 3 times.These days thankfully we should all be having regular supervision, I now pay for my own invaluable supervision.

I deliver professional supervision to over 60 occupational therapists, from every different clinical background you can think of, right across the country from Aberdeen to Guernsey. They include newly qualified band 5’s to Directors of Services. Each supervision session is unique, in frequency, duration and content. At the heart of every session is the high standard delivery of occupational therapy.

I use the Proctor model of supervision which covers the normative, formative and restorative aspects of professional life. So supervision for my occupational therapists is a safe space to reflect, off load, regroup, explore problems, identify solutions, explore work life balance, review current standards of practice and guidelines and have their clinical work linked to HCPC standards.

Working with Occupational Therapists, undertaking on the University of Derby and Sheffield Hallam University APPLE placement educator training course, as part of the workshop activity we looked at the use of supervision within placements, the educators were asked to identify, from their personal experiences, what they saw as positive supervision experiences and best practice and then to identify poor experiences and things to be avoided. This information was gathered from educators over three courses and was reviewed to identify themes.

The themes relating to best practice identified were the need for it to be positive

and motivating, organised, to be developmental, for there to be good communication, for it to be given dedicated time and take place in an appropriate environment.

The themes relating to poor supervision, with themes identified around supervision being negative and critical, unstructured, not being prioritised and given time or being cancelled, there being poor communication and taking place in inappropriate environments. Further issues included breaches of confidentiality and an imbalance of power.


  1. How often do you have professional supervision, and how long does your session last?
  1. What is the most important thing to you about having professional supervision?
  1. What do you see as the difference between mentoring and supervision?
  1. Do you use a model to underpin your supervision?


  1. How does having regular supervision make a difference to your practice?
  1. Does it make an difference having supervision from another person who is not an occupational therapist?
  1. How do you link the outcomes of supervision to your HCPC requirements?

Post chat updates

Online transcript here

PDF of transcript:

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript September 10th 2019

The Numbers


#OTalk Participants


Davys A and Beddoe L (2010) Best Practice in Professional Supervision A Guide for the Helping Professions Jessica Kingsley Publishers London

Hawkins P and Shohert (2012) Supervision in the Helping Professions fourth edition Open University Press Maidenhead

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (2017) Continuing Professional Development and Your Registration. London: Health and Care Professions Council

Healey J and Spencer M (2008) Surviving your placement in Health and Social Care

A Student Handbook Open University Press Maidenhead

Thomas N T (2013) Solution-Focused Supervision A Resource-Orientated Approach to Developing Clinical Expertise Springer New York